Seattle trip report
Thank you Seattle hounds, as you helped make my brief trip to Seattle full of foodie delights. We went to three bakeries, Bakery Nouveau, Cafe Besalu, and Crumble and Flake. I thought Bakery Nouveau was flat out amazing, a real wonderland of a place. The stollen was the best I have ever had, and the filled croissants were delicious. I had big eyes and wanted to try everything. Cafe Besalu was just as good, although with a smaller selection, and with great coffee too. We had croissants and European style Christmas cookies. Crumble and Flake was solid, but was not on the level of the other two.
Spinasse, Sitka and Spruce, and The Walrus and the Carpenter were all worth the hype. The salads in particular at these places were all done with more care and nuance than I am used to, with unusual and brilliant combinations of flavors.
Every latte I had was pretty delicious. I went to Milstead and Co. because I read it was a real coffee lover's sort of shop, but I suppose above a certain level it's all the same to my taste buds, more or less.
Do many residents of Seattle go to Pike Place Market if they are not taking visitors there? I kept coming back for the crab cocktails and the meat sticks, but most of it looked like a tourist trap, and parking was crazy expensive. Piroshky Piroshky was really good, along with Pike Place Chowder. Having lived in the Midwest I was hoping the cheese curds at Beechers would squeak between your teeth (a sign of an extremely fresh curd), but alas, they did not. I thought because my visit was in late December and early Jan, the crowds would be moderate, but that really wasn't the case. I can only imagine what it is like in high tourist season during the summer.
I'd also like to report that Ray's Boathouse was good, for those visitors looking for the water view seafood restaurant with good food.
Thanks for the nice trip report. You really made wise use of your time. Glad you liked Ray's - I am a long time fan. And, yes, locals do love the market - Don and Joe's meats, Beecher's grilled cheese sandwiches, Alm Hill Farm, etc are all regular stops. But somehow over the last few years Christmas season has become as crowded as high summer. I didn't realize this until a few years ago. We usually spend Christmas with my family back East but when they visited here instead and I envisioned taking them to the winter-quiet Market, I was stunned by the crowd there during Christmas week.
Yes, locals do go to the Market to shop. If you know where to look, there are some great, unusual food items and even some bargains
But I went to the Market today, and it was nuts. Summer is worse--especially on the days when there are several cruise ships coming or going--but it was still too crowded to be pleasant I'd like to blame it on the holiday crowds, but they should be thinned out by now, shouldn't they?
I'd like to think it's better on a drizzly day midweek, but working a weekday job makes it tough to get there and find out. I love the place, but I guess I need to develop a higher tolerance for hordes of people, too many of whom are kind of oblivious and rude.
Most of the hazelnuts grown in the US come from Oregon, but there are some Washington growers, too. Holmquist Orchards http://www.holmquisthazelnuts.com/ does a day stall at the Market (the day stalls are the non-permanent vendor tables, mostly at the north end of the Main Arcade), every day except Tuesdays. I buy them for baking, and to send to friends out-of-state, where really good, fresh hazelnuts seem to be really hard to find.
There's a stall right across from the fish-throwing guys, next to Rachel the Pig, that sells great dried fruits. Their apple chips are the best I've ever had. The business is called Simply the Best http://esimplythebest.net/ and I'd have to agree! Their stuff makes a good, easily-portable gift to take of send.
Britt's Pickles http://www.brittsliveculturefoods.com/ is tucked away at the back of the Corner Market Building. They do all sorts of pickled and fermented goodies--cucumbers, of course, but also kimchi, sauerkraut, onions, Meyer lemons, and more.
Bavarian Meats http://www.bavarianmeats.com/ is in the Soames-Dunn Building. They do all kinds of tasty cured meats. My husband is addicted to their landjäger.
Another place for great meats (and other things) is DeLaurenti's http://www.delaurenti.com/ in the Economy Market Building. They have an amazing deli and cheese selection. If you can't make it down to Salumi during their crazy-limited hours, DeLaurenti has some of their products.
World Spice http://www.worldspice.com/ isn't in the Market, but it's right behind it, on Western Avenue. Their stuff is amazing--high-quality, very fresh, and they have a huge selection. In the store they have a collection of business cards from some of the local chefs and restaurant buyers who shop there, and it includes many of the best restaurants in town. It's worth a visit just to step inside and inhale--it smells SOOO good!
That should get you started on your next visit!